Breast Health
Excisional Biopsy

Definition of terms:
Anesthetic - Medication that produces loss of sensation for pain; may be local or general
Antiseptic - An agent to remove bacteria and other microorganisms; to disinfect.
Biopsy - The removal of tissue in order to study the makeup of cells
Benign - Not cancerous; no threat to the body
Excisional - Process of cutting out of the body
Hematoma - An accumulation of blood under the tissues
Malignant - Cancer, a threat to the body
Pathology - The study of disease process and consequences

• If a suspicious lump has been found that can be felt by a physician, it may be removed from the body with an excisional biopsy. The excisional biopsy removes the entire lump during a surgical procedure in an operating room.

• Several days prior to the biopsy, you will be required to have lab work performed according to your doctor's orders. An assessment and medical history will be taken to determine any conditions such as allergies or previous surgeries. Remember to write down the names of any medication that you take on a regular basis for this assessment interview.

• On the day of the surgery, you will report to the surgical unit. Local anesthetic (in the breast only) or general anesthetic (put to sleep) will be administered. The breast will be cleansed with an antiseptic cleanser to destroy bacteria on the skin. The surgeon will cut through the skin to the lump and remove the entire lump and sometimes an area of tissue around the lump
referred to as the margins . Several stitches will close the incision area. You will return to recovery where you will be monitored until your vital signs are normal, you are awake and are experiencing no vomiting, bleeding or excessive pain. You will then be discharged.
• A small bandage will cover the incision and you will be given discharge instructions on how to care for the wound. Ask your doctor when you may get the incision area wet and when you can return to normal activities. A return appointment will be made with your physician to have your stitches removed and to see how the wound is healing. The biopsy tissue will be sent to the pathology lab and the results, stating whether the tissue was benign or malignant, will be made available to your physician. Ask when and how you will be informed of the results of the biopsy report.
• There is potential for infection after an excisional biopsy because of the cut through the skin. Follow the instructions provided by your physician on how to care for the wound and how to change the bandage. Be sure to keep the bandage dry. Check the area for signs of increasing redness, or a drainage that has a dark yellow-greenish tint or a foul-smelling odor. Report either new, red bleeding if it should occur, or the formation of a hematoma which appears as a dark, reddened, firm area under the skin. Your physician will need to record the hematoma formation on your medical chart because this can appear as a change on a future mammogram.

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excisional biopsy